Saturday, March 6, 2010

Got to Have Service on the Other Side

The Indiana Lawyer's COA rules on service of summons issues does not report on a family law case, this is subject still needing attention.

Gohl filed his motion arguing the judgment against him was void for lack of service of process. The Court of Appeals judges agreed and reversed, finding the trial court didn't have personal jurisdiction over Gohl when it rendered the default judgment against him. Colonial failed to specifically comply with T.R. 4.13 as it pertained to effecting service of process of publication against Gohl, and it didn't perform a diligent search to determine Gohl's whereabouts. The company relied on one search that turned up a B. Gohl on the opposite end of the state from what county was listed on the mortgage. The Court of Appeals remanded with instructions for the trial court to grant Gohl's motion.
The service of summons on the Elliotts didn't follow T.R. 4.1 because the sheriff who served a copy of the foreclosure action at the house didn't also send a copy by first-class mail. The appellate court didn't rule on the issue of whether it was improper because it had found in the Elliotts' favor based on other reasoning. But the judges did caution practitioners, trial courts, and law enforcement personnel to be mindful of the requirements of Trial Rule 4.1(B).
No service, then no further proceedings until there is service.

Why not? Because proceeding would violate federal and state constitutional rights. At a minimum, due process requires notice and a chance to be heard by a court.

Indiana Trial Rule 4
explains a bit more the importance of service:
(A) Jurisdiction Over Parties or Persons--In General. The court acquires jurisdiction over a party or person who under these rules commences or joins in the action, is served with summons or enters an appearance, or who is subjected to the power of the court under any other law.
This part of Trial Rule 4 sets out what the summons is to have in it:
(C) Form of summons. The summons shall contain:

(1) The name and address of the person on whom the service is to be effected;

(2) The name, street address, and telephone number of the court and the cause number assigned to the case;

(3) The title of the case as shown by the complaint, but, if there are multiple parties, the title may be shortened to include only the first named plaintiff and defendant with an appropriate indication that there are additional parties;

(4) The name, address, and telephone number of the attorney for the person seeking service;

(5) The time within which these rules require the person being served to respond, and a clear statement that in case of his failure to do so, judgment by default may be rendered against him for the relief demanded in the complaint.
The summons may also contain any additional information which will facilitate proper service.

For those interested in doing their own documents, check with your local County Clerk for forms.

Indiana has 17 rules on service (follow the links to Trial Rule 4.1(B) and Trial Rule 4.13 as mentioned above). I think that pretty much describes the importance of service.

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